Before anything else could be said of the movie, it must first be known as FICTIONAL.
It is a product of imagination. Diversely, it appears to be true-to-life since there are numerous dialogues that had already been available (and popular) through publications and the like. On the contrary, the real cinematic drama could be credited to those imaginary dialogues between the two popes. For example, the future pope from Buenos Aires flew all the way to meet the aging pope to Castelgandolfo to discuss about their apparently respective retirement. It went further into the moment when the retiring pope was in effect endorsing the reluctant future pope. Far from the very truth that is. Ergo, the plot is such a figment of imagination, albeit a very ingenious attempt.
The film tried to peek into particular “humanities” of two gigantic church figures. Ratzinger portrayed as stiff, conservative, out-of-touch, among others. Bergoglio on the hand as free-spirited, always-with-the-people, progressive, etc. The movie came to a point where Pope Benedict was perceived as desirous of the papacy while Pope Francis as loathing any position of powers-that-be. The fact that Pope Benedict XVI resigned and opted to embrace monastic life is a case in point to disprove this imagining, and his share of detractors, to be very wrong. Ratzinger could not be that type of guy who would aspire for anything of the limelight, he would rather be with his books or with his piano. The same could be said of Bergoglio. In point of fact, he has already chosen to retire in a simple apartment by himself before another twist of fate struck him- the papacy.
Furthermore, flashbacks on the life of the young Bergoglio provides an interesting ingredient into the drama. Right to it, he was feeling all unworthy of anything, much less of the loftiest chair of the Christendom, due to his past. Specifically, he uttered in one scene, “It could never be me.”
In different circumstance, however, it would be a feast of my personal curiosity had their been a flashback as well on the young Ratzinger. Methinks, the drama would be more dramatic to skim into the mind of a heavyweight intellectual from a far quiet region of Bavaria, Germany. How humble (and humbled) was he during the deliberations of the Second Vatican Council where he played as consultant (peritus) to his superior? How was he inside the classroom as a prolific professor? All these and more, would definitely be eye-catching (well, at least to this author).
Much still could be said about “The Two Popes”, literally and figuratively. A conference or two would not harm at all if only to set perspectives in proper and to do away with some unfair biases and prejudices on personalities and circumstances.
Conclusively though, the film is very engaging as it amuses. Anthony Hopkins as Pope Benedict is subduedly ravishing, while Jonathan Pryce as Pope Francis is strikingly demure. Other characters are surprisingly “true-to-life” or could be mistaken as playing the role of himself (Cardinal Turkson as Cardinal Turkson). Moreover, while watching you could also have a sense-feeling that you were physically transported to the Vatican Gardens, Sistine Chapel, Castelgandolfo, among others.
And to those who have queries on how the Church is and how is it there inside the Vatican, the movie will spawn more questions than give you answers. Taken together, given another free time, I would try to make a repeat of The Two Popes.